Putting the ‘e’ in campaigns

The netroots get real in the Bay State, and the secret behind Joan Vennochi’s e-coup.
By JOHN CARROLL  |  August 30, 2006

‘Real blogs are all about point of view,’ says Blue Mass Group co-founder Charley Blandy. ‘We are partisan, we are biased.’
It’s becoming clear that there’s more to the political blogosphere than just blahg, blahg, blahg. Exhibit A: Ned Lamont’s improbable victory in Connecticut, where the netroots crowd (the electronic version of grassroots) chased Senator Joe Lieberman (D-Get a Dog) off the Democratic ballot line. Now it seems bloggers in Massachusetts want a shot at being election-year players.

Take Blue Mass Group (BMG), which is quickly becoming a full-fledged member of the local chin-strokerati. The site’s three founding bloggers — Charley Blandy, David Kravitz, and Bob Neer — are all Kerry ’04 survivors who, Kravitz said, started BMG “to try to elect a Democratic governor.… We initially envisioned it as a platform to talk up candidates we wanted to back.”

And they’ve done exactly that, endorsing Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Deval Patrick earlier this month (tip o’ the hat to former Phoenix scribe Dan Kennedy, who touted BMG’s endorsement on his Media Nation blog).

Blandy said it was the obvious thing to do. “Real blogs are all about point of view. We are partisan, we are biased.” And the endorsement is a form of truth in advertising, Blandy and Kravitz said in a phone interview. “We’re upfront with our bias. People can evaluate what we say through that prism.”

But BMG is no longer just about backing a candidate, the two said. With some 20,000 visitors a week to the site, BMG wants to provide a Democratic forum that includes comments posted by both ends of the political spectrum.

“With the grassroots community,” Blandy said, “it tends to be an echo-chamber effect. But if they’re not seeing the ads and the arguments of other candidates, they can’t address them.”

BMG has taken other steps to avoid being part of the String-Saving-Shut-In school of blogging. The site posts mp3s of BMG interviews with the local press — NECN’s Chet Curtis and the Boston Herald’s Kimberly Atkins in one; WBZ’s Jon Keller and the Boston Phoenix’s Adam Reilly in another. Beyond that, the BMG trio initiated an event with the Democratic lieutenant-governor candidates, who will be interviewed by Jimmy Tingle at his Somerville theater next Thursday night.

“We’re interested in activism more than strict blogging,” Blandy and Kravitz said. The Tingle event provides “a reason for the site to get involved in politics.”

That spirit of activism, in turn, inspired this space to spring into action and conduct an official Spin Cycle Survey™, the only poll that guarantees a margin of error of 100 percent. We started by contacting Mike Barry at 201k.com (“A Commonwealth Perspective”), who immediately wrote in his blog, “we were really hoping to avoid this.”

Why? “We’ve no desire to join the circular firing squad, and thereby give anti-Democratic ammunition to the anti-democratic press (which seems to be all of it these days) moving toward the general election.”

(Close-captioned for the 201k-impaired: the local press has given Governor Mitt Romney a free ride.)

Reluctance aside, 201k eventually gave its gubernatorial nod to Attorney General Tom Reilly, followed in the rankings by Chris Gabrieli, Independent candidate Christy Mihos, and (“We’re Number 4!”) Deval Patrick.

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  Topics: News Features , Deval Patrick, Jimmy Tingle, Joseph Lieberman,  More more >
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